Hasitha Fernando on the essential horror-comedies of the 21st century…
With October upon us and Halloween apporaching here are some of the best horror-comedies the new century has gifted us thus far. If these movies won’t slay you with their humor, they might just scare the bejesus out of you. Check out the recommendations here…
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The cult British TV sitcom Spaced introduced us to a trio of uber talented creatives – Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Emboldened by the success of this show Wright, the self-professed geek, then ventured into the world of feature film, dragging Pegg and Frost along for the ride. The result of this enterprise? A deliciously unique romantic horror-comedy titled Shaun of the Dead, which centers on two down-on-their-luck adults caught in the middle of an unexpected zombie apocalypse. Packing humor, heart and enough pop-culture references that’d make Deadpool’s head spin, this is a movie that you cannot afford to miss. Because in all honesty there’s nothing quite like this zom-rom-com out there, before or after its release.
What We do in The Shadows (2014)
Taika Waititi is maybe something of a household name now, but a few years prior the chap was a simple indie-filmmaker who churned out his personal brand of tragicomedy in his beloved nation of New Zealand. Structured in the same vein as mockumentaries like This Is Spinal Tap, What We do in the Shadows follows the misadventures of four vampires, living together in an appropriately gothic house in modern-day Wellington and the complications that arise between them. Brilliantly original and utterly hilarious the horror-comedy has endless re-watchability value and certainly ought to have you rolling in stitches this Halloween.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Where do I even begin with this film? Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is without a doubt one of the craziest, laugh-out-loud black comedies I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing and that’s saying something. What writer/director Eli Craig has done is something so simple and therein lies its brilliance. But why this ballsy premise works so well, is because of the excellent deadpan performances dished out by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, who play two buffoonish redneck siblings. I won’t spoil you but let’s just say that the movie flips established genre conventions upside down and turns ‘em inside out. ‘Nuff said, watch this.
Happy Death Day (2017)
Slasher horror took a bit of a hiatus following the conclusion of Scream 4, but with Happy Death Day we finally saw a joyful return to those gleeful blood-soaked roots. Touted as Groundhog Day sans Bill Murray but with a higher body count, the movie amalgamates sci-fi with slasher horror and a healthy dose of comedy to boot. Throwing together disparate elements might sound like a recipe for disaster, but in this occasion, it works in spades. The nifty horror comedy even went on to spawn a fun-filled, gut-spilled sequel Happy Death Day 2U but to me, nothing beats the fiendishly clever original.
Before hitting the mother-of-all-jackpots with Deadpool, writer duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick tried their luck in the horror-comedy subgenre by writing Zombieland. The raving success of the effort catapulted the fledgling storytellers to the Hollywood stratosphere and the rest, as they say, is history. The film also packs an unusual amount of star power in the form of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, and the incendiary chemistry between ‘em just makes the movie. Gross, funny, poignant and action packed, this Molotov cocktail of craziness is truly one for the ages.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
In a lot of ways Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is the only deconstructionist horror satire that could hold a candle to Wes Craven’s Scream in terms of concept and originality. Going under the radar of many, this mockumentary is a genuinely funny and strangely heart-warming celebration of the slasher subgenre, that gives insight into an aspiring (fictional) psychopath’s thought process and modus operandi. Will he be the next Freddy Kreuger or Jason Voorhees? There’s only one way to find out.
Ready or Not (2019)
Borrowing heavily from Richard Connell’s short story The Most Dangerous Game, Ready or Not deals with a similar idea although keeping it in the family, instead of hunting down some random strangers. Headlined by a terrific Samara Weaving, the movie while being a boat loads of fun and truck loads of gory, also manages to squeeze in some excellent social commentary ala Jordan Peele without trying to be too clever. Ready or Not is one kick-ass, rollercoaster ride from start to finish and if you don’t wanna miss out on some crazy fun then by all means check this one out.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Yep, Cabin in the Woods being in this list is something of a no-brainer for sure. But there’s a reason why this brilliant horror-comedy still manages to remain fresh and maintain its appeal, and that’s due to its absolutely ingenious story, exemplary subversion of genre tropes and stylish execution. Led by a pre-MCU era Chris Hemsworth, the flick’s debut experienced many postponements before ultimately seeing the light of day in 2012, but I gotta tell you, the wait was totally worth it, and a decade later Cabin in the Woods still rocks hard.
Psycho Goreman (2020)
This campy and silly love letter to 80s horror, is genre filmmaking at its finest. Featuring some good old-fashioned practical effects, which bring to life gnarly extra-dimensional beings and some icky body horror moments, this one is certainly not for the faint of heart. There’s blood, guts and weird humor a plenty crammed into a simple but effective premise, which see a pair of siblings stumble upon an otherworldly gem which summon a world ending demon. Of course, things go sideways in the most hilariously unexpected ways, but that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
One Cut of the Dead (2017)
One of the most audacious zombie horror-comedies to debut in recent memory, this Japanese flick manages to pull the rug under our feet on multiple occasions with some expert storytelling. In a day and age when you think you’ve seen it all, One Cut of the Dead still manages to feel fresh and imaginative whilst delivering on the chills, scares and blood spills. And by the time the end credits roll you will be left dazed and oh-so-slightly confused with what you saw onscreen.
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.